Since 2020,The Forest has been documenting and engaging with the current anglophone crisis in the Northwest southwest regions since its early beginnings, especially with the influx of internally displaced people seeking refuge in the economic capital of Cameroon, Douala since 2017. The natural progression from being activist denouncing extrajudicial killings and revendicating the protection of the humans whose daily life and livelihood had been greatly affected by this violence to becoming carers of women and children fleeing from the violence between the Cameroonian armed forces and the Ambazonian Defence Forces.
Most internally displaced persons we've come across and cared for are from the region of Bamenda which is the most affected area by the violence perpetrated by the government security forces and the Ambazonian defense forces. The disgruntledness that sparked this crisis started back in 1960 when the southern Cameroons under British protectorate had to merge with the french Cameroon which was under french protectorate. In Fact the memories go as far back as 1916 after the first world war when the Germans were defeated and their colonial territories seized from them. Germany had colonized Cameroon in 1884 implementing different cultures and beliefs. It is a succession of subsequent cultures and beliefs that forged the character and workforce of the people of Menda from decades to centuries. The People of Bamenda have been toasted and turned by hands on rule by the Germans to the more subtle rule of the British who actually ruled them through Nigeria, to the direct rule of the French which was only administrative and not developmentally focused.
We want to look back into historical archives to situate the genesis of the Anglophone crisis
Going back through historical memories the most salient politicians in the era pro and post independence were from Bamenda and Buea from the British side of the country.
Reunification was a minority ideology confined largely to the Cameroon people of the Southwestern quadrant. That notwithstanding, its chief proponents were Francophones who conceived it, propagated it, and sustained it until the United Nations recognized it in the 1960s. Anglophones have always felt left out in this somewhat forced marriage. The disparity that existed on the point of languages, cultural heritage and governance was a considerable point for the Southern Cameroons who felt marginalized in every public sector.
Language has been one of the vulnerable tools of marginalization towards the people of Bamenda, French has always been the administrative language used in ruling. The lack of infrastructures did not favor ease of movement for a population that were farmers who had no means of developing their trade outside and beyond Bamenda because of poor roads. The Campaign for the restoration and preservation of Anglophone institutions in the Southern Cameroons started as far back as 1984 when Fon Gorji Dinka created the Ambazonian group. This group was awakened again in 2016 after the violence inflicted by the forces of security on lawyers and teachers who carried out a peaceful protest to revoke the use of French language instead of English in Courtrooms and classrooms in Bamenda, a population that was mainly english speaking.in September 2017, an armed militia known as The ADF (Ambazonia Defence Forces) exacerbated by military exarcations in the Southern Cameroons regions of the Northwest and South West regions started a guerilla war against the Cameroon armed forces. In November 2017, the government of Cameroon declared war on the separatists and sent its army into the Anglophone regions. This war is termed
“The Anglophone Crisis” and it has killed over 4000 people and displaced more than half a million people to the cities and some to neighboring countries like Nigeria. Limited attempts have been made at negotiating. Talks mediated by Switzerland in 2019 ultimately failed, and the Ambazonian leadership crisis has complicated the situation. The government and the Ambazonian leaders fail to come to a ceasefire consensus.
The trauma of this war on the civilians of Bamenda has been felt in many aspects of their lives including education and mental health.
It is in this continuity that we imagine a new context, working framework under a project titled Going back through memory lane. Going back through memory lane wants to respond to a situation that has revealed the many impossibilities of our contemporary existences created on a foundation of a history with many erased gaps.The project wants to explore the potentiality of archiving making and their opening to a wider public. Using official documents, voices, sound, the project aims to create a space for new imaginations and alternative knowledge formation where conversation and translation of official unknown stories and histories break with silence.
Going back through memory lane will be built on the idea that knowing and speaking is freedom. How to create an archive that allows and encourages criticality? Acknowledging that archives have been oppressive spaces for different bodies (women, young people) how can archives become spaces that makes reparation possible? Going back through memory lane wants to unfold Cameroon History, its past and demonstrate how it has affected our present.
- Project Lead: Chantal Edie Ntube
- Project Manager: Zacharie Ngnogue
- Curator: Aude Christel Mgba
- Administration & Financial Manager: Arrey Andymike Agbor
- Archiviste: Dinayen Benetor Bimela
- Hospitality and care manager: Nkwain Hamlet
- Web Designer: Yvon Langue
- Videographer & sons: Mbou Jacques Maturin